Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Presents, or presence?

After returning home from a couple of hours of Christmas shopping, feeling pretty good about crossing at least a few things off the list, I read the daily meditation from the book “God Calling” by A. J. Russell.

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“Give to all you meet, or whose lives touch yours, of your prayers, your time, your love, your thought.  You must practice this giving first.
Then give of this world’s goods and money, as you have them given to you.”

Perhaps, during this Advent season, we might reflect on the gift of our presence, rather than the gifts of our presents.
We are living in a world in which we have distracted drivers, teens with neck problems from texting on their cell phones, and schedules that never stop.
When was the last time you gave someone the gift of your presence?

In his book “Mother Teresa’s Prescription for Happiness,” Dr. Paul Wright spends a lot of time on this subject.  A successful cardiologist, he was caught up in the busyness of life when he reached out for spiritual guidance from Saint Mother Teresa.
During the time he spent with her, she taught him to focus on only the person in front of him, and to block out thoughts about other things on his schedule, other demands on his time, etc.  To give the gift of his time and attention, to be present to the person before him at that moment.  It changed the way he practiced medicine and it changed his life.

When was the last time you focused on the person in front of you, really listened without distraction? Or when was the last time you were the recipient of someone who really listened to you, where they made you feel like you were the most important thing to them at that moment? What a gift to be able to give and receive someone’s undivided attention!

Easier said than done, right?  How much simpler it often seems to write a check, make a donation of goods, or give something tangible, than to give of our time and attention.  To make someone feel important, listened to, and loved, is perhaps the greatest gift we can give.

We must pray for the grace to be great givers, of our time, our attention, our very selves, and yes, of our resources as well.  We have the perfect teacher in our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, who is physically present to us at the Mass and in Eucharistic Adoration Chapels throughout the world. He is always present and waiting for us, willing to give us His undivided attention, to listen to our praise, our thanks, our contrition and our petition.  He is the greatest giver, for He loves us beyond our own understanding, and gave EVERYTHING to win us back, even dying on a cross.  He cannot be outdone in generosity.

As we get closer to the celebration of the Lord's Nativity, perhaps we can consider what the gift our presence, rather than our presents, would mean to those we love.  Pray for the ability to be a great giver of your time, your talent and your resources.
Our God did not come to earth in royal robes on a throne; He came to us as an approachable, adorable babe in a manger. He waits for us to approach, to adore, so that he can give us the gift of His presence, so that we may receive the graces to give the gift of our presence.


Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need. 

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